Drug Side Effects: What You Need to Know
When you have a minor ailment such as a cold or occasional insomnia, it’s convenient to buy medication to treat it without a prescription. However, you should be aware that over-the-counter medication can produce side effects just as a prescription medication can. Here's what you need to know.
Check the Database
If you’re concerned about a possible drug interaction, enter the names of the two medications into this database to see if anyone else has reported issues from taking the two drugs at the same time. Some of the most common interactions between two drugs include:
Alteration. This means that one medication changes the way that your body processes or absorbs another medication.
Duplication. Your body may not be able to handle it when two medications have very similar ingredients. For examples, taking two pills with strong pain-relieving properties can damage your liver or kidneys.
Opposition. Medicines with extremely different types of ingredients can also cause adverse side effects, such as one reducing the effectiveness of the other.
How to Determine Which Drug is Causing a Side Effect
Sometimes people take a prescription or non-prescription drug for years with no issues and then suddenly develop a sensitivity to it. When this happens, they may suspect that the side effects come from a new drug because the one they have been taking for a long time has never caused any problems.
We recommend keeping a diary of your side effects, including a description of each one, when you last took each medication, the symptoms you’re experiencing and what you were doing when they started and stopped. This will help your doctor narrow down what’s causing your problems and potentially switch you to another medication if needed.
Drugs Can Also Interact with Food
Certain foods can interfere with the way your body absorbs the medication. For example, dairy products make it difficult to absorb an antibiotic. Your doctor should explain whether to take new prescriptions with food or on an empty stomach as well as which foods to avoid. You will need to read the label carefully for over-the-counter medications to find out this information.
Keep in Mind That Doctors Don’t Always Inform Patients of Side Effects
It’s common for a doctor to write a new prescription and then not spend much time with the patient explaining the benefits and possible side effects. If you feel you’re being rushed, don’t be afraid to speak up and ask your doctor if the potential for any significant side effects exist and what you should do if you experience them.
It’s also a good idea to read the prescription label and the instructions that come with each prescription thoroughly. At Arena District Pharmacy, we’re always happy to take as much time as needed to ensure that patients understand how to take their medications as well as the benefits and risk associated with each one. We may even be able to offer you a better alternative to traditional medications. Contact us today to get started.